Team Arkansas became National Champions at the 2021 AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Junior Olympic Swim meet this past weekend in Houston where three Hope Swimmers competed alongside them.
Team Arkansas mens’ team won the entire competition with the women coming in fifth. Team Arkansas competed against teams from all of the country including teams from Florida, New England, Maryland, Georgia, Missouri, and so much more.
13-year-old Sadie Knoll, 13-year-old Addison McEuen, and 12-year-old Ben Stewart were the three Hope representatives that competed with Team Arkansas this past weekend.
In the preliminary race for the Girls 13-14 200 Meter Breaststroke, Knoll placed 7th where she was originally positioned to place 9th, qualifying her for the finals. In the finals, Knoll yet again placed 7th, earning a medal and 12 points for Team Arkansas. Knoll also shaved off nearly three seconds from her prelims time in the finals race.
McEuen also raced in the Girls 13-14 200 Meter Breaststroke and placed 9th, originally positioned to placed 12th. McEuen also tied her personal best time of 4:19.78 in the event.
Knoll also competed in three relays for Team Arkansas, two of which she earned a medal for. Knoll, along with “A” Team of Sophie Ellington from the Central Arkansas Racers, Elizabeth Esteban from Shark ATAC Swim Team in Lonoke, and Ashtyn Smith also from the Central Arkansas Racers, placed 5th in the Girls 13-14 200 Meter Medley Relay where Knoll swam the breaststroke and earned 28 points for the team. Knoll also helped the “B” Team of herself, Emily Armer from the Searcy Sharks Swim Team, McKinleigh Meeks from the Warren Waves Swim Team, and Madison Picking from Bryant earn an 8th place finish and 22 points for the team in the Girls 13-14 200 Meter Freestyle Relay.
Stewart also did great in the relays he competed in for Team Arkansas, helping the team place top three in three of them. Along with Joshua Arnold from Bryant, Maddox Cain from the Central Arkansas Racers, and Aiden Jeffs from the Area Texarkana Aquatic Club, Stewart helped the team place 2nd in the Boys 11-12 400 Meter Free Relay. The four boys also placed 3rd in the Boys 11-12 200 Meter Relay and the Boys 11-12 200 Meter Medley Relay, where Stewart anchored the team.
McEuen had some impressive time drops at the meet this weekend as well. McEuen shaved off over 22 seconds in her 400 meter freestyle from her previous best time and also shaved off almost seven full seconds in her 200 meter freestyle.
“So thankful to be a part of this team and one of the Coaches,” Coach Amy Knoll said. “Congratulations to each and every swimmer! Such amazing talent this team holds.”
The Junior Olympics concluded the team’s season, but you can catch the team Saturday, Aug. 7 at 3:30 at the Hope Pool for a Team Exhibition for the Watermelon Festival following the Watermelon Waddle and Duck Races. The Hope Piranhas will return next summer.
*NOTE: The original article stated that Team Arkansas came in 2nd. That information came form outdated results that were not updated at the time.